Lowe’s Home Centers Invites 16

Retail Chain Initiates Closed Review for Its $100 Mil. Ad Account
ATLANTA–Fueled in part by ambitious expansion plans, Lowe’s Cos. officials said last week that they have placed the company’s $100 million advertising account into review and have invited 16 undisclosed agencies to respond to a request for proposals.
Included on that list of 16 is the home improvement retailer’s current agency, Doner of Southfield, Mich., which indicated it will defend the business.
Lowe’s Home Centers vice president of advertising Dave Tyler would not identify the other 15 shops being considered. Client officials at the company’s headquarters in North Wilkesboro, N.C., did say, however, that the pitch was closed, and no other proposals would be accepted.
“We have had an association with Doner for the last nine years, but felt it was prudent to reassess our situation and see what other agencies had to offer,” said company representative Brian Peace. “We have had a long and successful relationship with Doner.”
Invited shops had until the end of last week to inform the client they intended to participate in the account review. Lowe’s marketing executives want to trim active participants to five shops this week. A client team will visit that quartet of agencies for a round of talks, after which another cut is likely.
Finalists will be asked to complete a paid creative assignment. Tyler would not tell Adweek when the review is scheduled to conclude.
Helping the client select the agencies was Business Partnering International of Richmond, Va., which operates a service called agencyfinder.com.
The winning agency will be arriving at a time of the most aggressive expansion in the home improvement chain’s history. Last year, 76 stores were added in 22 states; 80 more retail locations are scheduled to open by the end of 1999. Over the next three years the retailer is planning 100 stores in the western part of the country.
The agency will be responsible for primary advertising chores, including media planning and placement. The client will continue to deal with weekly newspaper inserts, run-of-press ads, magazine advertising and in-store merchandising, among other marketing services.